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Scupi, Zajchev Rid – Skopje

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The biggest Roman castrum in Macedonia 

Near today`s roman Scupi on Zajchev Rid, it was located a pre-Roman colony with the same name, that was named by the dardan expression for eaves, shelters, sheds... Close to this convenient position were was passing the main road from south to Danube on north, the Romans will build their city at the foot of Zajchev Rid, and will keep the old name of the city.

The birth of the city of Scupi is connected with the arrival of the Roman army who brings the culture in the ravine of Skopje. It is considered that at the time of Octavian Augustus (around the year 12 B.C.) the two macedonian legions were transferred on the filed of the new founded Dardania. The army was situated in the south part of Dardania, probably in the ravine of Skopje, near Scupi. Because of that this city became a legion camp (roman castrum) with enormous dimensions.

Later, during the domination of Tiberius and Clodius, the macedonian legions were transferred at the confines of the Roman Empery. The abandoned castrum later will be inhabited by many civilians and home population. In the city also were coming to live served war veterans, who were getting from the Roman Empire properties in the plain of Skopje. In the city the population was from different origin and social state – the veterans were coming from different parts, from the west Mediterranean, over Italy till Syria.

It is assumed that the urban life in the city is ending around the 5th century. It is considered that in this period the land surface of the city decreased, it was gathered only on the plateau of Zajcev Rid (on the acropolis) around witch were built new city walls. The new city was around 5 hectares large, almost ten times smaller than the first Scupi. With the disastrous earthquake in Dardania in the year 518, Scupi ceased to exist.

The city of Scupi is patterned and in advance designed to be a military castrum with rectangular base – the sides are 2000 and 2500 roman feet. The city was surrounded with strong wall built of broken stone, who was 3 meters large and additionally invigorated with square towers.

Before the civilian and early christian basilica who were dug up in Scupi, it must be mentioned the biggest antique theatre in Macedonia. Built at the time of the emperor Hadrian, this theatre had a complex construction and rich exterior processing of marble and slates in color, so it was not behind with the other famous constructions in the word metropolis at the time.

The cemeteries were spreading beside the four sides of the rectangle. The dead people were buried with different rituals from witch today it can be discovered the profession and the social status of the cadaver.

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